Orson Welles

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Long Lost Orson Welles Film Could Be Released Next Year


Orson Welles

One of the great long-lost movies of all time could at last be set for release in 2015. Legendary director and actor Orson Welles’ unfinished final film The Other Side of the Wind is mooted for a full theatrical release by May 6th, the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Orson Welles
Orson Welles in Citizen Kane (1941)

Veteran producer Frank Marshall has apparently joined forces with Royal Road Entertainment in order to approach the heir of Welles’ estate – his daughter Beatrice – and his old collaborator Oja Kodar to secure the rights to the unfinished film. With the help of modern production and editing technology and Welles’ extensive notes that he left behind, missing and half-finished scenes will be restored.

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The Wire Named No. 1 TV Show Of All Time By Entertainment Weekly


The Wire Dominic West Beatles Orson Welles Kanye West Bob Dylan

The hit Baltimore-set crime series The Wire has been chosen by Entertainment Weekly as the greatest television show of all time in a recent poll compiled by the magazine. The HBO series, which ran for six seasons between 2002 and 2008, battled off competiton from comedies, sci-fi classics and fellow crime dramas to be singled out as the greatest show ever-made, with EW also ordering the greatest movie, album, book and stage play of all time too.

Dominic West Aston Martin
West starred as Det. Jimmy McNulty in The Wire

The David Simon-helmed police drama was described as the "most sustained narrative in television history" by EW as it beat off competition from The Simpsons, Seinfeld, the Mary Tyler Moorse Show and The Sopranos, who finished off the top five of the top ten countdown. Earlier this year, The Sopranos, which starred the late James Gandolfini, was chosen by the Writers Guild of America as the greatest television show of all time, but clearly the writers of EW had a different opinion. All In The Family, The Andy Griffith Show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mad Men and Your Show of Shows made up the rest of the top ten.

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Casino Royale (1967) Review


Weak
Though great he may be, there is a limit to the amount of uninterrupted Burt Bacharach music one can endure. And sadly, that limit -- of music punctuated by kazoos, harpischords, and accordions -- is far less than 137 minutes.

There's also a limit on the length of a spy spoof one can sit through (the second Austin Powers and Richard Grieco's If Looks Could Kill being the few notable, yet guilty, exceptions). That limit tends to run about 58 minutes.

Continue reading: Casino Royale (1967) Review

The Transformers: The Movie Review


Grim
By any sane criteria, The Transformers is a terrible, terrible movie. It has some of the worst feature film animation ever passed off on audiences anywhere, and its plot (Autobots vs. Decepticons by way of a planet-munching giant robot called Unicron) is as threadbare as anything Saturday morning has ever delivered.

But The Transformers has earned a cult following, for a couple of reasons. First it's the only Transformers-themed movie ever made. In case you weren't a kid in the '80s, Transformers were immensely popular toys that could change from some common item (usually a truck or a plane) into a robot. With lasers. Cartoons followed, then the movie.

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Genocide Review


Good
Few Holocaust documentaries have the pedigree of Genocide, which rises above literally hundreds of similar productions thanks to soulful narration from Orson Welles and Elizabeth Taylor. There are few insights here that you can't get in slicker productions (and in fact, some of the minor details mentioned in the film are in dispute), but the steady pace and penetrating focus on the Jewish experience in WWII makes the film definitely worth checking out. The film notably won a Best Documentary Oscar, to boot.

Mr. Arkadin Review


OK
Orson Welles' Mr. Arkadin is one of those films that is much more interesting in how it got made than in the final product. Just about every aspect of it is shrouded in mystery and confusion, starting with the original plot, which (arguably) began with a radio play called "The Lives of Harry Lime," which Welles adapted into a novel, was translated a couple of times, and eventually became a script. for a film. The film was painstakingly produced in a typical trouble-filled Welles affair, full of lawsuits and ownership issues that resulted in at least seven versions of the film being produced for various markets, in various languages, and by various producers. Even the title is changed from time to time.

Criterion has unearthed this saga for an exhaustive DVD box set, which features two versions of the film (including one called Confidential Report), plus its own cut of the movie, which combines elements of all the seven versions into a "comprehensive" version of the film. Welles' novel is included in whole, too, along with umpteen essays about the curious backstory of Arkadin and its long road to DVD.

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Touch of Evil Review


Essential
God, I love Charlton Heston movies. He can always be relied on to give an, er, square-jawed performance. He's appropriately square-jawed here, with a pencil-thin moustache and a swaggering demeanor. Yes, sir. You want to make a compulsively watchable movie, you throw old Chuck a bone and cast him in the lead role.

On top of that, Touch of Evil makes him a Mexican! I love it! Charlton Heston plays a Mexican detective!

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F For Fake Review


Extraordinary
I've never seen another film like F for Fake, and if you invest a quick 90 minutes in it I'll wager you'll come away with the same dazed and breathless feeling that I had.

F for Fake was, depending on how you look at it, Orson Welles last feature film as a director, and -- as Peter Bogdanovich describes it in an insightful introduction -- it's not quite a documentary but rather a "documentary essay" about trickery and fraud in its various incarnations.

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The Muppet Movie Review


Excellent
Like most movies of its year, The Muppet Movie looks (and is) really dated. But it's worth it to willingly suspend disbelief at how dated it is --- to appreciate the good-natured humor and comedic flair of Jim Henson. Henson tried to entertain both kids and adults, and though both audiences were probably easier to please in the days before all comedy became irony-soaked, Henson was one of the first to add sly postmodern touches. And while the movie promotes the annoying myth of Hollywood as the dream factory, magic store, etc. it more than makes up for it by borrowing comedians from several generations, from then-new comics like Steve Martin and Elliott Gould to veterans like Bob Hope and Orson Welles(!), for an endless string of cameo appearances.

The plot loosely follows the odyssey of Kermit the Frog from his swamp home to Hollywood in search of celebrity. The desirability of fame and stardom is never questioned. The Hollywood worship becomes pretty maudlin at the end, thanks mainly to songwriter Paul Williams, whose songs are palatable at first ("Rainbow Connection" was a hit) but become too much before the end of the movie.

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The Lady from Shanghai Review


OK
Orson Welles directs a fairly stereotypical 1940s tale of noir, with himself in the lead role as a penniless Irish sailor who gets caught up in a love affair with a rich man's wife (Rita Hayworth, Welles' real-life wife at the time) and a plot to fake the murder of the man's law firm partner. Convoluted and roughly edited, Welles' signature photography is stamped all over the film, but his usual savvy sense of plot and character development is lacking. The film unfortunately never wholly comes together, most notably during one of the most tepid, poorly-constructed courtroom sequences on film. The ending, however, a shootout in a hall of mirrors, is unforgettable and has since been widely copied.

Citizen Kane Review


Essential
I first watched Citizen Kane in 1997. For me 1997 was the year I actually buckled down and decided that I wanted to be a critic, and that I had better take this job seriously. With that in my mind, I switched my focus from new releases to retrospectives, designing myself to be able to do what I had at first loathed in critics: make obscure references to movies I had never heard of.

As a point of fact, when I actually got into the business I heard of those movies. And I heard more about those movies. And more. And, when the AFI named Citizen Kane as the best film of all time, I decided that it might just be a good idea to see it.

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The Trial Review


Excellent
Welles' adaptation of Kafka's famous work is one of his most innovative and bizarre, a trip through the surreal that would have done Kafka proud. Anthony Perkins is a solid choice as Josef K., the protagonist who's accused of and tried for a crime -- without ever being told what it is. His journey through the dystopic justice system (though rambling) has as many modern day analogues as ever, and The Trial's stunning visuals ensure you won't be able to look away.

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The Third Man Review


Excellent
Holly Martins' (Joseph Cotten) best friend got himself jun over and buried... so what's all the mystery about Harry Lime (Orson Welles)? Though he didn't make the film, Welles' thumbprint is all over The Third Man, which reteams Cotten and Welles (Citizen Kane) so very memorably. With its Dutch angles and intriguing score (hey, that's a zither!), The Third Man is memorable even though the twisty plot has become a bit on the tired side, as Martins parades around Vienna playing amateur gumshoe.

Casino Royale Review


Weak
Though great he may be, there is a limit to the amount of uninterrupted Burt Bacharach music one can endure. And sadly, that limit -- of music punctuated by kazoos, harpischords, and accordions -- is far less than 137 minutes.

There's also a limit on the length of a spy spoof one can sit through (the second Austin Powers and Richard Grieco's If Looks Could Kill being the few notable, yet guilty, exceptions). That limit tends to run about 58 minutes.

Continue reading: Casino Royale Review

The Stranger Review


Excellent
Largely unsung, this Orson Welles movie is one of his most straightforward, yet still one of his greats -- and reportedly his only film to turn a profit on its original theatrical release. Welles also stars as a Nazi war criminal now living under a new identity on Connecticut... until the tribunal catches up with him. The architect of the genocide then quickly reverts to his old ways. Not a lot of surprise -- except for some rare casting of Edward G. Robinson as the good guy.
Orson Welles

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